One of nice things about greenhouse growing environment is it allows for propagating new plants from existing ones. But you don’t need to have a greenhouse to do this; all you need is a warm location and some small containers. Geraniums are easy to propagate if you want your new geraniums to flower in winter you will need to propagate in July. This will make a spectacular display whether in the greenhouse or by a kitchen window. It’s always a happy sight in the middle of winter when everything looks gloomy and cold.
I like to re-use yogurt containers for this purpose. But any small container will do if it is two to four inches tall. Save them up, wash them and fill to the top with Perlite. I usually will take a dozen or more cuttings when I do this.
Using the mother geranium, choose a large, healthy specimen; take a cutting that is at least 3-4” in length. Sterilize a knife or clippers with hydrogen peroxide then take cuttings one at a time, cutting diagonally, at a slant, just below a bud or leaf. Remove the lower leaves, leaving only a few leaves at the top of the stem.
Next, dip the lower part of the stem into a rooting compound and using a pencil, make a hole in the perlite and then set the cutting into this space. I make three cuttings per container. Make sure the stem reaches all the way to the bottom of the container then water thoroughly. The containers should be moist, but not soaking.
Fill a flat, a box or a pan with the containers and place them in a warm location. Providing bottom heat isn’t mandatory but it will aid the rooting process. You can cover the cuttings with glass or plastic to provide humidity but do not set them in direct sunlight.
Over the years I have learned to label the flat with the type of flower I am propagating as well as indicate the color of the flower when it comes to geraniums. Since I have so many different types it’s easy to forget which color I’m doing.
The cuttings should begin to take root in 3-4 weeks. Resist the urge to lift them out and look to see if they have new roots. This will be hard to do, but it’s worth it. Just practice patience and you can expect a good root system if you keep the Perlite moist.
After a few weeks move the tray of containers to bright light. This can be a sunny window or under greenhouse grow lights. In a couple more weeks you should notice growth. Once you see new growth you can move the cutting to a permanent place. Lift the individual plants out of the containers and plant them with potting mix. Do not plant them into a pot that is too large, but instead start with smaller pots or plant them directly in the ground.
Other flowers to consider when it comes to root cuttings are fuchsia, sweet potato vine, 4 O’clock, coleus, and sedum.
Becky Miller has been a passionate gardener for over twenty-five years and has two greenhouses. You can follow her adventures of incorporating edibles in her flowerbeds and creating an old-fashioned cottage garden at her historic home in Wichita, Kansas at Kansasbungalow.blogspot.com.